Thoughts and Faith to Share

Bishop Galante: Faithful Citizenship is living in a way worthy of the Gospel

As Catholics, then, we do not weigh a wide range of issues against abortion and euthanasia and consider whether they cumulatively outweigh the intrinsic evil of taking an innocent life, since this intrinsic evil never can be justified… our concern for the dignity of the human person already born is rendered moot if we do not place first concern on the right of that person to be born.

Bishop Galante:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

The Gospel consoles us, but also challenges us. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (Jn 14:6) He also said, “Come, follow me” (Mt 19:21).

If we are to be Jesus’ disciples, we must in faith accept who Jesus says He is: God’s own Son. Yet, this belief has ramifications. We who really accept and believe that Jesus is who He says He is are compelled to follow Him, whatever the cost.

The Gospel, then, calls us to join our belief with action. Jesus tells us in Matthew’s Gospel, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt. 7:21). Here we have the necessity of belief, yet Jesus tells us that this belief is something more than inwardly focused intellectual assent. It involves discerning and doing God’s will.

Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is that we must love God with all our heart, soul and mind. Then, He adds, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:37-39). What does loving our neighbor entail? Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). The “least of these” Jesus has in mind are the hungry, thirsty, naked, the stranger, the imprisoned, the sick, the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.

If we ever had any doubt, this passage confronts us with the reality that the Gospel is not just about Jesus and “me.” Rather, the essence of the Gospel always is Jesus and “we,” we His people. In some circles the term “social gospel” has become popular as a way to draw attention to those areas of social justice that require our Christian witness. Yet, really, there is only one Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, and it is “social” by its very nature in that Jesus saves us as a people and we are a people who are relational by virtue of baptism.

There is a simplicity to Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as we love God and ourselves. Note, however, that in this simple formula, Jesus does not provide us with a checklist of minimum requirements for discipleship. He leaves no room for complacency or indifference. Rather, if we are to call ourselves His followers, we must give over our entire life to discipleship and identity with Jesus. As Catholics, then, we are called not to be minimalists, but disciples in totality, in and out of season.

Click here to read the following sections of Bishop Galante’s pastoral letter.

  • No dichotomy between belief and action
  • The Church in the public square
  • Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
  • Promoting Human Dignity
  • Human solidarity and the common good
  • The need to strengthen marriage and families
  • Considering the range of moral issues
  • Some issues do not admit of exception
  • Act in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ